A Savage War

     The breeze coming of the moor was stronger that usual today, Koryis noticed because he had to adjust the collar on his tunic for about the twelfth time since he stopped to rest his horses. Even though he was cold, he feelt releived to finally be home after eight years fighting in the Kings War. He was only sixteen years old when he left home to join the Crimson Legion. Eight years ago the legion stood five thousand strong, elite warriors trained in all the arts of war. Now Koryis was one of thirty-seven knights, in eight years he had buried almost everyone he knew. But today he was still smiling; today he got to come home.

The young knight walked his mighty steed into town with the shield of the Crimson Knights hanging from it's flank. He realized quickly that no one at all seemed to remember him, the looks he received were the same looks that he received entering any town in all of the allied kingdoms. He headed straight through town towards the Blue Duck Inn, he knew he would be remembered there.

As he walked into the inn he spotted only one unfamiliar face and it was a face that he couldn't stop noticing. She had shoulder length auburn hair and the deepest green eyes that he had ever seen. Many times, on the battlefield, Koryis had envisioned what an angel might look like. This young woman made all his angels seem ugly by comparison. The warrior was so entranced by her beauty that he hadn't even noticed his father's approach until he was hefted cleanly into the air, over three hundred pounds of man and a steel lifted as easily as one would lift a bag of feathers.

Over the next few days Koryis learned that his beautiful angel was in fact the widow of a man he had fought beside several years ago. She had a daughter, only four years old, that would never be able to meet her father. Koryis imagined what he would say when he finally mustered up the courage to approach the woman. Nothing he ever thought of seemed right, and then the decision was taken out of his hands. About a week after his arrival she approached him.

The name of his angel was Lisilka, and her voice was even sweeter than anything he could have imagined. They spoke for hours about how much the town had changed since he left, and briefly abut the war. As the hours rolled by Koryis didn't want it to end but eventually the moon peaked in the night sky and her shift at the inn was over. He walked her home to continue the conversation, but mostly to just hear her voice as she spoke.

For the next month they spoke every day, and every night he would walk her home. He was never invited in and he never asked, it was too perfect an arrangement to ever ruin it with anything. But Koryis knew that he had never, in all his days, loved a woman as deeply as he loved Lisilka.

It was at the end of that first month that things in the borderlands began to heat up again. Koryis knew that it was only a matter of time before the king assembled the knights and he would be ordered to return to war. He knew that Lisilka knew it too, and the fear and sorrow that now shadowed the face of his angel broke his heart more than anything. He could not bear to see her this way and was determined to see her smile.

Koryis spent the next several weeks trying desperately to distract Lisilka from his looming return of the war. It worked for the most part. They spent almost all of their time together, they would go for long walks after she finished the days work, and picnics on the days she wasn't in the inn. They fell so deeply in love with each other that everything else just seemed to fade away. It was on the very day he had asked her for her hand in marriage that the king's riders showed up with his orders. The world didn't fade away after all.

His orders were to return to the front lines and lead a small force inside enemy territory to shut down their supply routes. He told Lisilka that the mission was not a dangerous one and that he would be back to marry her before the first snowfall in six months. With the lie told he returned to the war with a new found vigor. He knew that after this he would return and live out his days with his beautiful angel.

* * *

Koryis and his men had been moving through the snow on foot now for three days. The last encounter with the enemy had not gone well for them, they lost seven men and the last of their horses before they were able to escape into the valley. Ever since the snow began to fall a month ago all the young knight could think of was Lisilka. It had distracted him so completely that he had forgotten what he was fighting for. It was after a lot of thought that he realized that his distraction had been his purpose. He swore to himself and to his men that he would lead them to victory and then he would lead them to peace, because without peace he could never truly relax.

For Koryis, he had never seen such loyalty and dedication from his men as he had seen in the past week. He knew that these men would follow him directly into the bowels of hell itself, which was precisely what he was about to ask them to do.

They had scouted enemy movements and traced them all to the Sabre Valley, and Koryis knew if he wanted to ever go home to Lisilka he would have to stop them in the valley. The main enemy force was at least ten thousand strong, he had sixty-three men left, and no horses. It would be a hell of a fight, that he refused to lose. He told his men what they had to do and waited for the objections, but the men just smiled and remained silent. They all knew that some, if not all of them were going to die in this valley. But they somehow felt as though they could win this day and the war would finally be over.

For almost a full week they set up in the valley. They spread themselves out and built large traps to cripple their opponent. They knew they only had one shot to win and they had better make it count. They waited for the enemy to be fully inside the valley before launching their attack. Koryis waited for his targets to come into view and charged into battle against unbeatable odds.

Lisilka awoke suddenly, alone in her bed, screaming. The winter wind howled in through her open window, almost like death himself had brought her a message.

* * *

The End

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